Can marriage survive adultery – yes and no

It is highly possible that you know someone or a number of people who have committed adultery or have experienced its pain. You too may have had the experience and were left to wonder, can marriage survive adultery?

No matter your age – I know of children who have had to endure adultery in their families – the experience is heart wrenching. Your family life and each individual life is forever altered. I know of no situation where adultery was seen as a good thing and welcomed by the family.

That being said, adultery is common in every society and at every level in every country around the globe. It is most times spoken of in hushed tones in conservative societies.

Hollywood and its portrayal of this aspect of life has made it appear more glamorous than it really is. So much so that our youths and young adults appear to see nothing wrong with it. The resulting trauma is seldom highlighted.

So let’s take some time to examine this all-pervading practice and then answer the question asked above.

What is adultery

Since this term is of spiritual/religious origin, I will give a Biblical definition with some background.

God, the Creator of heaven and earth, made man on the sixth day of the creation week. In fact, man was the last created being. The only other thing created after man was the Sabbath and this was the setting apart of a twenty-four-hour period, on the seventh day of the week, every week thereafter, to worship God.

So God created two human beings, a man and a woman. The woman was created for the man – as his equal, his companion, someone to be loved and protected by him. She was to be the one through whom the world would be populated and she was to reverence and obey her husband.

The divine plan was and still is clear. Marriage is always between one man and one woman. No law of man can change that, just as it is futile to change the day of worship to any other day.

God, in giving the Ten Commandments to Israel, which has been passed on to the whole world, said in the seventh commandment, “thou shalt not commit adultery“.

This principle has been recognized throughout time and it meant that when a man and a woman got married, they were expected to reserve themselves to and for each other only.

It could however, be broken if and when one partner chose to engage in sexual relations with someone else. In the strictest sense of the word, if you are/were not married to a person but is/was engaging in sexual intercourse with that person, then you committed adultery.

Some people are more exacting and define sex between two unmarried people as fornication, while they define adultery as sex between a married and unmarried person. Either way, it is sin in the sight of God.

In ancient times, adultery was punishable by death. Death by stoning. Today, though that practice is no longer observed, there is still a frown on the act.

Reasons people give for adultery

Were you to be able to talk with someone who had commit adultery and ask for the motive behind their actions, you would receive a plethora of responses.

I know of one person whose reason was that he wanted to find out if something was wrong with him sexually, if he was unable to satisfy his wife.

Three years after marriage, his wife was telling him that she did not want to have sex again, that she could live without it for the rest of her life. He was in his late twenties, she in her early twenties. So he got an opportunity and took it.

Another one told me that he was just attracted to the other woman and she to him. He did not take the time to consider the effects of his actions upon his wife nor himself. He just wanted the pleasure.

One woman found herself listening to the genuine complaints of one of her colleagues at work. She attempted to comfort and encourage him. At the same time, he always complimented her and had nice and gentle words to say to her. She was not getting that at home. Before she knew it, they were in bed.

Another friend of mine said that she did it to get back at her husband who had cheated on her.

I am certain that you have heard many other reasons for adultery. You may have done it too, and if so, would have your personal reason for doing so.

Despite all the reasons that are and can be given, there still is, in the sight of God, no excuse for this sin. Else He would not have commanded us not to do it.

The command to refrain from this act was given for the benefit of mankind, not to deny him any happiness. The devastation that this practice/sin has brought can only be appreciated by those who have experienced it and taken time to reflect on it.

The pain and the hurt

No matter who you are, the experience of adultery is a deeply painful one. Men may appear as though they are not bothered by it, but I can assure you that they are.

Just look at the number of them that conclude that revenge is the way to go, and chose to kill their spouse and sometimes her lover. Others kill themselves after killing their wife.

I do not condone this practice in any way or form, but it is a reality of life and must be faced as one of the choices people make as they deal with the pain of that heart break. Women too, chose this way at times.

One man related that when he found out that his wife was unfaithful to him, he felt as though someone had taken a knife and driven it through his navel and then turned it in there. It was real physical pain that reoccurred every time he related the experience. Years later, after he had forgiven her, the pain went away.

Others think of themselves as being rejected and worthless. They sink into depression and often neglect their duties both at home and on the job.

Trust is shattered when adultery occur. It leads to the other partner always being suspicious of most of your actions, even if they are right and honest. Especially when it comes to the other sex.

If you come home later than usual there is suspicion and often questioning. This can lead to arguments and further separation.

At the same time, if there are children in the home, they too are affected by the tension that exists between their parents. They are in tune to the slightest emotional and other change. Sometimes, they choose sides. Other times, they try to bring the parents back together again. There are cases where some children blame themselves, thinking that they had done something that resulted in the rupture of their parent’s relationship.

If the act becomes public knowledge, it can also result in relatives and friends choosing sides. Even these relationships are affected and some may feel that they have to intervene, making the situation worse.

A child born as a result of adultery further complicates the matter. Especially if the woman was the one that did the act and was at the same time having sex with her husband. Many a man have brought up children that are not theirs biologically.

Let me use this opportunity to say that unless you are really close to the couple, if adultery occur, it would be better if you be a source of support and encouragement. I suggest that you refrain from speaking good or bad about the unfaithful partner.

It may surprise you that if you speak up, whatever you say can and would be held against you – especially if the couple reconciles.

At the same time, your good intention may result in further wounding the hurting person. Give the person room to chose for themselves the action they want to take while guiding them away from that action that may be harmful.


It may hurt you to see your relative or friend go through the pain of what can only be described as betrayal. Listen to him/her if he/she wants to pour out his heart, but hold your tongue. Do not add to the pain by recounting things that revealed the other partner’s unfaithfulness. It does not help.

So there is anger, hurt, a desire for revenge, disappointment, feelings of rejection, bewilderment, shame, resentment, confusion and other negative emotions that result from adultery.

Sooner or later, a choice has to be made.

Choices after adultery

There are many factors that must be considered when adultery takes place. While it may appear that only the couple is affected, this is not a true reflection of the situation.

It is therefore important that decisions should not be made in haste.

Forgiving the one who stepped out of the marriage is not wrong, neither is choosing to stay with them and attempting to rejuvenate your damaged relationship.

I suggest now, that whatever your choice, let one of them be to forgive the person who hurt you.

From experience, there will be many who will know what you should do and they will tell you. Some will even be angry at you if you choose not to follow their method of dealing with the situation. You may even lose some friends and or relatives based on your choice.

But the choice ultimately is yours.

Basically the choices are two; stay and work it out or leave and start over anew.

Choosing to stay would mean having to deal with that person every day and you have to search yourself and decide if you are ready and prepared to do that. So consider well what would be expected of you and what you would expect of yourself.

For example, can you live with him and not be continually suspicious of things he does? If she gets a phone call and walks away while speaking to the person, will you be comfortable with that?

Are you prepared to continue having intercourse with your partner or will you all be sleeping in separate room? If yes, how will that choice affect the relationship and your children? How will it affect you and or him?

What steps would you take to help mend the relationship and to what extent are you committed to that labor?

What if there is a child involved? Under such circumstances, your spouse would be inextricably linked to the other person for the rest of their lives through the child. How will you handle that?

Here’s a really big one; do you love her/him? To what extent? The answers to these two questions would deeply affect the choices you make and the effort put out.

And if the choice is to leave, are you prepared for single life? How would you cope financially? What about the children? Where would you go? Will you continue to have contact with your spouse or not? What about the other person?

Those are just a few of the choices that you will have to make when adultery occur.

Can marriage survive adultery

I’ll give my opinion up front. Yes, I believe that a marriage can survive adultery. I also believe that if and when handled correctly/wisely the marriage may become even stronger than before.

The other answer is no. This is entirely dependent upon the attitude of the people involved. Whenever forgiveness is absent, the marriage will fail. Of course, there are other factors to consider.

A bond may have been formed between your spouse or you and the other person. You may even think that you are in love with the outside person and don’t want to give her up. This will make it harder to restore the marriage.

So, take some time to self talk. You may have heard all the opinions of all your well-meaning family and friends. But, I must emphasize again, the decision is yours. They would not have to live with your spouse if they are telling you to stay.

Neither will they be lonely if the advice is to leave. So do not make your decision on what other people say or think. Carefully weigh the situation yourself and then decide. It would be helpful if you are able to get your spouse’s position on the situation.

In most cases, one of the most helpful way to ensure that your marriage survive adultery is to seek professional counseling. There are people who are qualified in this field and can assist you in going through this trying time in your life.

Whichever way you choose to go, forgiveness makes it all the much easier. And forgiveness can only come out of a heart full of love. Many people think that forgiving someone means that what was done was right. Far from the truth. Evil remains evil.

Forgiveness frees you from the burden of hatred, revenge, self-hatred, anger and all the other emotions that would just otherwise sap the happiness out of your life. So forgive.

It was only when I forgave my ex-wife and she me, that we were able to begin to heal and even be cordial with and to each other.

Today we get along quite well even though I have remarried. I visit her and my children whenever I choose to and I am welcomed.

In cases where one person wants to work on saving the marriage and the other doesn’t want to do so, then things are made much more difficult. There would always be tension in the home.

One marriage coach however boasts that he can assist the ‘lone ranger’ in such circumstances, still save the marriage. So if you are alone in wanting to help your marriage survive the trauma of adultery, then you can see what he has to offer here.

Happily ever after

This term was introduced to me when I read fairy tales. I still think that this is possible today within the marriage relationship.

Adultery is not a must in a marriage. It is a choice. One, or both partners decides to step out of the marriage and get involved sexually and emotionally with someone else.

If you choose to seek to save your marriage, and your spouse buys into the possibility, then you both can experience a previously unimagined, new relationship.

Commitment to each other must be renewed. On one hand, the one who stepped out must be willing to demonstrate that her total attention is on her spouse. It must be clear always that no other man has her attentions or affections.

The other spouse should always be willing to show that he has forgiven and once more trusts his partner. No more reminding her of what she had gone out and do nor preventing her from going out without you for fear of a repeat.

Put it all behind you and live as though it had never occurred.

If you do that, then it is highly possible that you would be able to say later in life that, ‘we lived happily ever after’.

What is your take on the above discussion? Have you been through the pain of adultery or know someone who has? Share your experience with us in the space provide. I am always delighted to hear from you.


  1. Anastazja - Reply

    This is a very frank article on an important subject.  I totally agree with beginning by stating that the injunction against adultery is a commandment.  You have listed reasons given for adultery which could also be called rationalizations.  Its never right.  You have been very direct in describing the pain cause particularly to children involved. I do believe that marriage can survive adultery but forgiveness, as you have said is key.  I also think it very important for a couple to talk things through in the presence of a trusted counsellor or pastor so they can frank and truly listen.

    • Russiossi - Reply

      We are in total agreement Anastazja. I believe that forgiveness is the solution to most of the social mallidies that we face in our society. It is the one that God prescribed so there can’t be any that is superior than that anyhow. Forgiveness opens the door for healing.

  2. Justin - Reply

    Hello there, marriage is another very nice way to avoid immoral activities and that is something we all should learn but it has gone to a point where people do not recognise it for what it is. I really feel bad when I see people commit adultery and I really feel it’s best we share such article so people can see and stop it. Cheers

  3. Bruce - Reply

    Wow, this is a  very big and strong question to ask, whether a marriage cab survive adultery, to my best idea, I think it all depends on the relationship of the couple before hand and it really takes a lot of time to get redemption. You’ve explained well and I like your illustration, but most times, the company involved determines.

  4. Suz - Reply

    This is a very good topic to discuss and really, I like that I am able to learn about it too. I have a friend whose husband cheated while they were married and she forgave him but it just kept happening and happening. This might not be the case with so many other marriages but I think it is a hard thing.

    • Russiossi - Reply

      Indeed it can become very difficult to deal with when the behavior continues to be repeated. They both sould sit and discuss truthfully the cause of his behavior and if they stil want to stay together, get the required counselling. She too, needs to find out why she is staying in spite of his cheating.

  5. Beesean - Reply

    Hello there Russell, I think it’s most important for married people to realize that there is no general handbook or training program for married people. I mean sure, you may happen upon a book or a retreat that promises to inform you on everything that you are supposed to do but the simple truth is not every marriage works the same way so you just have to decide for yourself what’s best for your marriage. 

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